The Accounting Sciences Department at Mandela University has just piloted an online tutorial project to promote online learning in their department.
Staff members Tarish Jagwanth, Lee-Ann MacPherson and Feroza Oliveria in conjunction with e-technologist Andrew Thuo, conducted extensive research from the start of the year and recently the first-ever online tutorial in the Department took place, via the Microsoft Teams Live Event Function.
A group of 30 first-year students in Business Accounting 1A, one of 15 tutorial groups in the course, participated in the pilot session which was so successful that it can now be rolled out to all tutorial groups in the module including online lectures, if necessary.
During the pilot, the students were seated in the normal tutorial venue, whereas the tutor who would normally conduct a face-to-face tutorial, was instead located in the lecturer’s office.
The tutor, Sivuyisiwe Molose, ran the tutorial fully online via a live stream process, and students were still able to engage with the tutor and ask questions as in the case of a normal tutorial.
The next phase of the project will allow the students to proceed with the tutorial even if they are at home or in their residence, as long as they have a secure Wi-Fi or data connection, which allows them to sign in to Microsoft Teams and participate in the live stream tutorial.
This process has now been expedited due to the effect of COVID-19 on the country, meaning that the need for online learning has increased. This will start if the University has to revert to an online teaching period after the recess.
The staff members involved in piloting the project ran a demonstration session with other staff members in the Department of Accounting Sciences, to enable all staff to use it.
After the demonstration session with other academic staff within the Department, many others have now expressed interest in using this feature, across undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The rationale for this undertaking was due to learning and teaching time being lost during times of student protest action, which makes accessibility to campus premises difficult. This was also in line with the Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences’ strategic plan of advancing the digitalisation of learning and teaching.
The three staff members have also documented their experiences of this process in the form of a work-in-progress research article which has been submitted for consideration to the SAAA (SA Accounting Association) National Teaching and Learning Conference to take place later this year.